Revelations Thursday, Jun 24 2010 

“The necklace. Lucifer’s Bane. The emerald hung in a chain over her heart. Somehow she had never returned it to her father‘s safe. Somehow she had gotten into the habit of wearing it everywhere.” (Pg. 61)

Perhaps long overdue. Once again, Melissa de la Cruz amazes me. I won’t lie though, Revelations is definitely not my favorite book in this series–but it is definitely jam packed with information which really helps you fill in the missing pieces.

However, there are many WTF moments. To be quite honest, I am going to need to read the Blue Bloods series again. While I do not mind taking notes–I actually enjoy it–for this being a teen/young adult book, you really have to pay attention. I would not generally say the following about a novel for young adults– it makes you think. You really have to pay attention to get every single detail, otherwise, you won’t understand the plot points or character developments within the novel.

Now, this Lucifer’s daughter business–I thought my Grandmother had it pegged down. Yeah. Nope. That title apparently has been given to one of the characters that I loved most. I’m quite sad actualy. I thought I was going to be able to hate Mimi Force even more–but that won’ t be happening unfortunately. Oh! And Jack Force–you are an Archie Andrews–Betty and Veronica. What the Hell man?! Really. Truly. What the Hell.

As you can tell, I’ve become more invested in this series than I previously thought I would be. If you like Amelia Atwater-Rhodes or Annette Kurtis-Clause, you’ll like this series. In any case, I did enjoy Revelations, I really did. Lots of turns and hella more twists. I’d say 3 or 3.5 out 5.

Speaking of Grit Ball Monday, Jun 14 2010 

I am pretty damn sure that the only woman I’ve ever heard speak openly about defending yourself against a man’s wrath is Madea. We all know Madea–and no matter what is and is not, I wish she were my Grandma. Maybe then I’d have figured out sooner how a woman is supposed to be treated. Not going to lie–women are great at being able to imagine wonderful lives for the friends, but we are damned if we try to wish or take action to grasp onto something better. Despite race, ethnicity, orientation, economic status, political beliefs, or religious background, we all deserve to be treated with respect and love. What has brought on this thought process one might ask? I was in my boss’ class printing documents for her when one of her students made an… “interesting” statement. He wants to argue in his paper that it is okay to hit women–wives, girlfriends, etc. I was floored. A man had just openly argued it is okay to hit women! Is he out of his damn mind? I want to read this paper and see where he is coming from… maybe he is playing devil’s advocate–that is what the optimist in me wants to believe…but the way he said it… it was just too honest to be playing that kind of game. My first inclination would be to play grit ball with him. In case you don’t know what grit ball is, Madea tells Vanessa and Lisa to “Cook a big pot of grits, bring him into the kitchen, then toss the grits on him. Then after you toss them, swat him with a frying pan. You gotta get you a good balanced weight, toss and swat, toss and swat, Venus and Serena, that’s called grit ball.” However, do unto others as you would have others do unto you–Matthew 7:12.

I don’t understand why people think it is okay to hit others, women in particular. Sean Connery just confused me even more. 😦 Or, we have the recent issue of a contract being signed so this guy can abuse his pregnant girlfriend whenever he feels like it. If your spouse is hitting you, there is a white elephant standing in your living-room and believe me, this elephant wants to tear your spouse’s shit up! I’m not one to mince my words when it comes to things like this. Generally, its people who, themselves, have been abused–falling into the belief that they are abused because they deserved to be punished. That women have to sacrifice to be comfortable. What the hell is up with that? I come from a family of domestic violence survivors–so, you might call me biased… but I guess that is just the way the world turns.

I am a fighter and I’ll be damned if my man ever thinks it acceptable to hit a woman because if you are man enough, you won’t pull that card from a low-handed deck. I should just state for the record that that I am by no means saying all men are the same. I wholeheartedly acknowledge that women are just as capable as men to abuse their partners… but I’ve yet to meet a guy who is not just my friend… that has the ability to treat a woman appropriately–they just seem to be few and far between. The relationships that do work give me hope for my future. I don’t think anyone deserves to be hurt–it’s so hard to say that because you want so much for Karma to come around and bite them in the ass for what they’ve done to you… but you have to forgive them. By not forgiving them, you let them hold you down and make it so your future relationships don’t have a chance in hell to have an ounce of potential. Maybe I should not be writing this, because if I have any readers, I don’t want to lose them just because this is seemingly one-sided. It is this way because it is what I know. I know that I am still trying to find out who I am because of the domestic violence I’ve experienced–one of the first steps is forgiving my abusers. Whether physical, emotional, or mental–it all hurts and more often than not, it is the emotional and mental wounds that remain–and the physical scars are few because the abusers are smart that way–got to hide the evidence. In Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea tells Helen and Myrtle a story:
     Madea: I remember this dude made me so mad, I didn’t even know how mad I was until I went to his funeral.
     Helen: Why were you so mad at him?
     Madea: Because he hit me. Yes he hit me… and I didn’t even know how mad I was until I saw him in his casket, he’s 8 feet under.
     Myrtle: 6 feet, that’s how they bury people, Madea, 6 feet under.
     Madea: That’s what I’m trying to say, I thought I was over what he did to me until I saw him at the funeral, I was so mad I BEAT HIM DOWN 2 more feet.
Madea then states that if you can see the person that hit you and you feel nothing towards them, it is then that you know you’ve forgiven them for hurting you. But if you want to “beat them down 2 more feet,” you’re more than likely not over it.

I hope that both women and men can one day get out of the unhealthy relationships they are in. We only hurt ourselves when we stay in bad places and teach future generations that it is okay to be badly treated. We leave our friends behind because we may feel we have no choice. We feel like we deserve to be punished somewhere along the line. We must stand up and realize that despite what we are told, we deserve more and better. We can and we will. You can not stop us. You might be able to slow us down–but you can’t stop us. However, we thank you and forgive  you because without you, we would never appreciate what we will have.

Masquerade Tuesday, Jun 8 2010 

Eyes, crimson eyes with silver pupils. The beast, come to life. It had spoken to her… It had said…” (252).

What can I say? Melissa de la Cruz is an author to watch out for! Next in the Blue Bloods series is Masquerade. I may be running a bit late in finding these books–but they may just be the next big thing! I am confident that almost anyone can be and will be pulled in with her  cliffhanger chapters–for people like me, that’s a problem because it means we can’t put the damn book down!

Masquerade picks up exactly where Blue Bloods left off and to find out where, you will have to read them both–and then maybe get suckered into reading the third installment! Who knows? Let’s just say, I would love to go to this place one day because it is absolutely breathtaking… in pictures.

Schuyler loves Jack. Oliver loves Schuyler. Jack loves Mimi. And Schuyler… well, she loves Oliver,  just not in the way he wishes she would–it keeps getting more and more complicated. Archangels in a coma and twins fighting for their other half–history repeating itself and boys and girls, sometimes, it just does not get any better than knowing that your life is uncomplicated.

New relationships are added to an already salad-like mix which makes for a nice getaway. However, if you find yourself going “Why in Hell did [insert a character name here] do that?” You are not alone. My roommates got a front row seat to me talking to the characters in the books–personally, I don’t like the character Mimi–she is well written in that way.

Some may find this book inappropriate for a variety of reasons–but remember at least one thing. This is a VAMPIRE novel. Society is pulled to vampires because they are sex symbols–wrong or right. Kirkus Reviews calls Masquerade “Tasty and alluring.” This I can sit down to and agree with. I can’t wait to read the following novels in the series and learn new details that will finally connect with the old. I’m giving Masquerade 4 out 5.

Blue Bloods Sunday, Jun 6 2010 

“It was so funny to see how scared the fresh blood looked” (137).

I finished it a couple of weeks ago, and wasn’t entirely sure I would even write a review–but here it is. For it being a novel for young adults, I really enjoyed reading Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz. This author has also written Masquerade, Revelations, The Van Alen Legacy, and other novels that seem interesting. I was thoroughly impressed with how the book incorporated not only historical people, events, and places, but also Biblical stories such as the Fall of Lucifer. You can really tell that she did her research, which in my book, increases your credibility.

While this series has been out since 2006, I’ve only recently heard about it and started reading it. I was apprehensive to even read this series thanks to all of the vampire craze caused by Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. Granted, I did read her vampire novels as well–much better than their movies, but that is probably not saying alot. In any case, de la Cruz’s vampires are different than all other vampires–you aren’t sparkling like Edward Cullen for starters. I miss when vampires were almost taboo and you didn’t have screaming girls running around like mad-hatters! I wonder if they will have figured out that vampires would rather mutilate them than tenderly kiss their lips. ANYWAY.

I do have to say that if you like reading novels about vampires, then this would definitely be another to add to your arsenal. Some of the main characters are not always easily likable, but then again, people who have a stick up their ass rarely are. The main character, Schuyler Van Alen offers some connection to girls, while Oliver Hazard-Perry, her best friend, offers guys something to grasp onto. I truly can’t compare de la Cruz to any author I have read that writes about vampires or werewolves because I haven’t read anything like her before. Her vampires remember their former lives and, if they have a soul mate, they spend their lives searching for he/she. They just fit in with reality more than other vamp novels.

In any case, Kirkus Reviews states that Blue Bloods is “A juicy voyeuristic peek into the lives of rich Mahattanites–who happen to be vampires.” This is only slightly true, however, if you are like me, you might also pick up a bit of a history and/or supernatural lesson. While many people might consider young adult novels to be mindless and plotless, there is plot and multiple sub-plots. There is definite character development, and many twists that leave you wondering if that really just happened. I would have to rate this 3.5/4 out of 5.

Mercury Rising: Vaccinations & Autism Saturday, Jun 5 2010 

For years, Americans have watched movies, read stories, and even protested in regards to the cause of autism. Although there has been a good deal of study and research to prove or disprove the cause, there are still unanswered questions. If vaccines can hurt the infants that receive them, why do a large majority of health practitioners so strongly stand by those vaccinations? The number of vaccines that infants receive within the first two years of life is staggering, but at the same token, many feel them necessary to protect future generations. Based on readings by Lisa Miller and Joni Reynolds, Jeffrey Baker, and Arthur Allen, it is my understanding that the four writers share the idea that vaccines do not independently cause autism—but a combined effect.

Autism is a neurological disorder that is typified by impairments in communicative or cooperative skills, and repeated actions or motions typically being identified in the child by the age of three (Miller and Reynolds 166). Depending on the child, he/she might be given gifts of extensive memory or even the ability to distinguish a large number of musical pieces, and even today, people such as Bill Gates, who has a form of autism, have created successful careers and lifestyles. Baker states that autism was only recognized in 1948 when Leo Kanner, a respected psychoanalyst, noted that eleven children were “shutting out all contact, as well as an ‘obsessive desire for the maintenance of sameness’ in their play and daily routines” (248). However, there is constant controversy as to how these children develop autism—is it the parents or the vaccines or more harrowing: something else? Parents of autistic children have gone as far as to say their offspring have “always been self-sufficient… ‘like in a shell;’ ‘happiest when left alone’” (Allen 372). One family in particular have coined the experience “going down the rabbit hole” because like Alice they are in the dark and have no idea where they are going—unlike Alice, their world will not be fanciful (Allen 374-375). It is these descriptions that give autism images—gentle children who sit in solitude in their own world while still in the reality of their parents and siblings or terrifying behaviors like thrashing themselves onto the floor and screaming.

When autism was discovered, it was considered a rarity. However, time passed and the statistics regarding autism rose—almost at an alarming rate. Allen remarks that in the 1970’s, autism was still viewed as rare with a commonness being “3 and 5 in every 10,000 children” (372). At this time, people were still unsure as how to handle the thought that autism was indeed occurring. However, when another thirty year passed, and the frequency rose, the approximation was that “3 to 5 children in 1,000” had developed autism (Allen 372). Around this time that children were receiving a large number of vaccinations which only fueled the idea that vaccinations were the origin of autism.

Over the years, there have been many theories, ideas, and accusations of sorts towards the causation of autism. At one point, Bruno Bettelheim, an autism researcher stated that “autism arose in infancy in response to rejection by an emotionally distant parent—a so-called ‘refrigerator mother’” (Baker 248). This idea continued to be popular for sometime before someone actually called out the idea and its creator. Baker also pinpoints Bernard Rimland, who in 1965, tore apart the psychogenic framework and presented the idea that the disorder could be traced to a parent’s biology (248). Rimland’s proposition could be seen as much more plausible than Bettelheim’s notion due to the studies that have focused on genetics’ as being significant for cognitive maturity. However, if genetics are a large part of the cause of autism, why are vaccinations being placed under the microscope of so much public scrutiny? Thimerosal.

Vaccinations were created to help people have immunity to potentially lethal diseases. However, if the general public—parents in particular are in fear of the negative possibilities that could affect their children, it is probable that parents will veer away and look to alternative preventative methods. The earliest medical vaccine was in 1796 when “Edward Jenner vaccinated James Phipps using material from a cowpox lesion on the hand of a milkmaid” and “a later attempt to give Phipps smallpox demonstrated his immunity” (Miller and Reynolds 167). At this time vaccinations were beginning to be seen as a necessity to survive—this vaccine was soon followed by a polio vaccine and a dozen more that are used today. However, it is not the vaccine that is the focus; it is the active ingredient Thimerosal, which was used longer in the MMR doses than other vaccines—a vaccine preservative whose ingredients include mercury, a chemical, if the wrong type could cause brain damage if a certain amount is given. 

Vaccine manufacturers use Thimerosal as a preservative for multidose vaccine vials that are used in third world countries where they cannot afford to pay for the vaccination at one time if at all. Miller and Reynolds describe why Thimerosal’s use is so controversial; it is half or 50% mercury in weight (170). However, there is a distinction that needs to be made—ethyl mercury versus methyl mercury. Like the two forms of alcohol, there is one that is lethal and the other is not. Methyl mercury “can accumulate in the brain and cause neurological damage” whereas ethyl mercury “is metabolized and cleared by the body” (Miller and Reynolds 170). Ethyl mercury is used in Thimerosal—but methyl mercury is “synthesized by bacteria living in mercury-polluted waters, where it is passed up the food chain and concentrated in fish,” and more often than not, found in Tuna (Baker 246). What is much worse is that Allen reports that in 1998 a study was carried out that showed “8 percent of childbearing women in the United States had levels of mercury in their blood above the EPA recommended level” and a “breastfed child would get roughly twice as much methyl mercury in mother’s milk as ethyl mercury from vaccines in its first six months of life” (378). This knowledge is clearly something to be noted because its significance points at not the vaccine as the cause, but to the parents and what they consume during pregnancy—causing harm to a child is high on a parent’s list of fears. 

However, in the 1990s, a good majority of people were sure that autism was indeed genetic leading many a parent to question themselves and severity to which they had hurt their child (Allen 387). Then again, there were even bigger majorities that were calling autism and its progressive nature an epidemic. This practice led to researchers, activists, and parents alike scrambling for answers—always receiving more questions than actual answers. Allen notes that if there was one thing that no person could deny it was that “autism diagnoses had gone up during a period in which vaccine use was going up… it was a handy correlation, whether coincidental or not” (387). Vaccine critics use a good deal of the smallest shreds of evidence they can gather to prove that autism is caused by vaccines and nothing else.

In recent years, due to the remarkable talents that come with autism such as extensive memory, auditory, gustation, higher pain tolerance, etc, autism has been called the “geek disease” (Allen 400). Studies have shown that autistics are more often than not born to high intelligence persons rather than average intelligence persons. Many people feel that this is a positive thought in a reality that shows otherwise. For example, Allen dictates than in 2006 “more than 6,000 new autistic 3- to 5-year-olds entered the California mental health system—roughly 40 percent more than” was entered in 2002 (411-412). So, does this mean that 12,000 individuals that are highly intelligent are reproducing autistic children? No—placing the blame is easiest when people are at wits end and desperate for answers—much like many parents of autistics.

In that, it goes without saying that parents with no answers and many questions are going to become even more frustrated when their concerns are deemed insignificant. A committee created in 2004 to investigate the claims and indictments on vaccinations went on to say that, “From a public service perspective the committee does not consider a significant investment in studies of the theoretical vaccine-autism connection to be useful” (Allen 411). However, in 2001, that same committee stated that “a link between Thimerosal and neurodevelopmental delays was ‘biologically plausible’” (Allen 410). In between 2001 and 2004, what proof could they have found that would make them speak to the contrary—going from plausible to insignificant? Unfortunately, the government never gave reason as to why they had switched their views and opinions.

Autism may not be caused by vaccines or the Thimerosal in the vaccines. Parents, activists, and others have given way to an awareness that could have been fully acknowledged years ago. However, new light has been placed onto the genetic idea that was given 40 years ago. People are beginning to believe that other persons could be autism carriers and the vaccines trigger the gene—a combined effort through genes and vaccines. This knowledge ultimately moves to the point that it is no one person’s fault if this is proven to be fact. It may place humanity on a path that would hopefully give the answers to the questions about what has caused my brother and thousands of other children to develop autism.

Works Cited

Allen, Arthur. Vaccine The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver. New York: W.   W.  Norton, 2007.

Baker, Jeffrey P. “Mercury, Vaccines, and Autism One Controversy, Three Histories.” American Journal of Public Health 98.2 (Feb. 2008): 244-253. Academic Search Premier.

Miller, Lisa, and Joni Reynolds. “Autism and Vaccination—The Current Evidence.” Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing 14.3 (July 2009): 166-172. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. O’Grady Library, Lacey, Wa. 26 Sep. 2009      http://ezproxy.stmartin.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=tru        e&db=aph&AN=43017185&site=ehost-live.